Factsheet: Tips on improving air quality

New Zealanders enjoy good quality air most of the time.  However, air pollution is an issue for some of our towns and cities during the colder months, and near some of our busiest roads.  We all have a role to reduce the amount of pollutants we put into the air, and here are some actions everyone can take to improve our air quality.  

For a warm healthy home that produces less air pollution:

  • Insulate your home – check with your council to see if there are subsidies/assistance available in your region for the installation of insulation.
  • When installing or upgrading your heating appliance – choose a low to no emission option such as an ultra-low emissions wood burner or heat pump.
  • Burn only dry seasoned and non-treated wood.
  • Make sure your chimney isn’t putting out smoke – get your fire going quickly, keep it burning hot, and don’t damp your fire down overnight.

Stop backyard burning:

  • Recycle rubbish, compost green waste or chip it and use for mulch – in many urban areas burning rubbish and green waste is already banned. 
  • Don’t burn treated timber – it contains arsenic compounds used for preserving wood.
  • Dispose of treated timber waste at your authorised landfill.

To reduce air pollution from our vehicles:

  • Tune and service your vehicle regularly, especially if it is smoky – a visual smoke check is included as part of your vehicle warrant of fitness.
  • Drive efficiently by driving smoothly within the speed limit, removing roof racks/boxes when you don’t need them, and ensuring your tyre pressure is correct – you’ll also save fuel.  
  • Use sustainable transport options – public transport, car-pooling, electric vehicles, cycling and walking. 

Where do I find more information? 

  • Check with your regional council or territorial authority for resources on reducing air pollution in your area.  Many also offer financial assistance schemes, supporting households to heat, insulate, and/or switch to cleaner heating.